27 Feb 2014

Settlement Agreements and Confidentiality

Settlement agreements usually include a confidentiality clause limiting who the plaintiff can inform about the agreement. This is usually limited to attorneys, tax advisors, and spouses. However, many people probably share the news with other family members. Unfortunately for one plaintiff, this article illustrates the pitfalls of violating the confidentiality clause.

http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/02/26/3961605/daughters-facebook-boast-costs.html

03 Jan 2014

Local Adult Entertainers Are Employees Not Independent Contractors

I represent 110 adult entertainers who sued a local strip club.  The club classified them as independent contractors, but the judge just ruled that they are in fact employees, which makes them subject to wage and hour laws, including minimum wage and overtime.  The club paid them nothing and charged them fines and fees for the privilege of coming to work.

Here’s an article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution:

http://www.ajc.com/news/news/judge-pin-ups-strippers-are-employees-not-independ/ncbyS/

22 Oct 2013

Discrimination Claims in Georgia – An Uphill Battle

This article and the study it discusses gives an excellent illustration of how difficult it is to get a discrimination case to a jury in Federal court here in Georgia.

http://www.myajc.com/news/news/crime-law/workers-who-cry-foul-seldom-get-a-day-in-court/nbQM6/

The study showed that 100% of racial harassment cases brought by workers in the Northern District of Georgia in 2011 and 2012 were dismissed by judges prior to reaching trial.  Only one sexual harassment case made it through summary judgment and survived to reach trial during the same period.  This behavior by federal judges is having a chilling effect on both plaintiffs and their attorneys, who generally work on a contingency fee basis.

15 Aug 2013

FLSA Collective Action Certified in Minimum Wage Case

This week, a judge in the US District Court for the Northern District of Georgia granted conditional certification in my clients’ case.  In the case, we filed suit on behalf of a class of exotic dancers accusing a strip club of misclassifying and failing to pay its entertainers minimum wage.  The court ruled that we had shown that my clients and their co-workers all faced the same alleged wage and hour violations.

The court ordered the club to provide us with the contact information for all the entertainers who worked at the club during the three years predating the order so they could be notified about the suit and enabled to join. The proposed class members will then have 60 days to opt in.  As of now, 13 additional plaintiffs have already opted in to the case.

22 Apr 2013

Employment Law on TV – “The Good Wife” Becomes Management

My wife and I really enjoy watching “The Good Wife” on CBS.  While it has ongoing serial plots, it is basically a “case of the week” legal drama.   While there is dramatic license and everybody gets in front of a judge in about five minutes (unlike the real world), the cases are often fairly realistic and drawn from real-world problems.  Last night’s episode waded into the waters of employment law.

The episode centered around the main character (Alicia) representing some employees of a high-tech company that agreed as a group not to sign their employment contracts without some major changes to their working conditions and pay.  The company responded by firing the employees.  Alicia decided that she would fight the terminations by invoking the National Labor Relations Act, stating that the employees had engaged in “concerted activity” with the intent to form a union.  The two sides had a hearing before an administrative law judge at the National Labor Relations Board the next day (not very likely), and eventually won the right to hold a union election.

Meanwhile, Alicia’s legal assistant overheard much of the discussion about working conditions during the meetings with the firm’s clients. She decided to organize the firm’s legal assistants and petition the partners for increases in wages and benefits.  Alicia was caught in the middle.  She wanted to help the assistants, but as “management,” she had to protect the firm’s financial position. In the end, the partners “cut off the head of the snake” and gave the two ringleaders of the assistant group some extra perks.  Doing this stopped the “rebellion” by the assistants.  This felt like a rushed way to end the story and definitely not realistic.  Once a group has a the idea that they are being mistreated at work, they tend to not let things slide.

What the show failed to address is that legal assistants and paralegals are generally entitled to overtime when they work more than 40 hours per week, and also may be entitled to other wage and hour benefits under state and local law.  If you are unsure whether your current or former position entitles you to overtime, contact me at 678-242-5297 to discuss your rights.